But He's #1 in the Post-Season, When it Really Counts
Red Sox manager Terry Francona notched a milestone last night, moving into a second-place tie for most wins by a Red Sox skipper (560).
The Red Sox also reached 90 wins for the third consecutive season, and the fifth time in Terry Francona's six seasons at the helm.
Francona's even-tempered professionalism has a lent a sense of ease and calm to a club playing in a city not traditionally marked by ease and calm.
Baseball is a virtual religion in Boston, and the Sox rabid fan base can at times be described as dour, pessimistic and reactionary. Francona's steady presence has unquestionably been a significant aspect of the team's success since 2004.
The Sox skipper is known as a player's manager and is sometimes loyal to a fault, sticking with his players long after the fans and media have called for them to be benched, traded, or released.
Francona stood by players such as Mark Belhorn, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon and, most recently, David Ortiz, as they struggled. His confidence and commitment to his players often pays off, and he seems to have earned the loyalty and trust of all.
Rarely has Francona had public run-ins with his players of the type that are at times seen with less level-headed managers.
Jay Payton had to force an uncomfortable confrontation to manipulate his way out of Boston. Francona didn't take the bait; he simply gave Payton the exit he desired.
Francona also took the high road with Pedro Martinez's prima donna act. And the same goes with Manny Ramirez's insufferable, selfish behavior. Francona was happy to be rid of the cancer and move on for the betterment of clubhouse chemistry.
Ever the true professional, Francona keeps team business private and within the clubhouse. How much the fans and media never hear about can only be speculated.
Joe Cronin, the winningest manger in club history, had a 13-year tenure as Red Sox manager and is the only skipper in team history to have exceeded Francona's six years of service.
Despite amassing the second most managerial wins in Red Sox history, Francona's success is without precedent. He won two World Series Championships in his first four seasons, and is the only Boston manager to reach the postseason more than twice; Francona has done it four times and this year will mark the fifth.
No previous Red Sox manager had won 90 games as many as four times, and Francona has now done it in five seasons. And Francona's .583 winning percentage the best winning percentage in team history among managers with 400 or more games.
For all he's achieved, hat's off to Terry Francona. And a hearty thanks from Red Sox Nation.
Most wins by Red Sox managers
Joe Cronin 1,071
Terry Francona 560
Pinky Higgins 560
Bill Carrigan 489
Jimmy Collins 455
Francona's Record with Red Sox